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FIRE! World’s Best Sniper Rifles (Picked by Former Member of Special Forces)

US Army
Spc. Anthony Tramonte, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, a native of Peachtree City, Ga., lines up a target as Army Staff Sgt. Kevin Corter, an instructor with the U.S. Army Sniper School and a native of Casa Grande, Ariz., coaches him during the final day of M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS) qualifications at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's Grezelka Range, July 10, 2013. The brigade's soldiers are attending the U.S. Army Mobile Sniper School, a five-week course with graded marksmanship on the M24 Sniper System, M110 SASS, and the M107 .50-Caliber Long Range Sniper Rifle. Students are also trained and graded in range estimation, target detection, stalking techniques, and written exams. Upon successful completion, all students will receive a diploma and those soldiers holding an infantry and/or special forces military occupational specialty will receive a B4 additional skill identifier. (U.S. Air Force photo/Justin Connaher)

Best Sniper Rifles, as picked by our own in-house former member of U.S. Special Forces: There are a lot of factors that go into producing a truly dedicated sniper rifle, and those have evolved over time.

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Back in World War II, the combatants used either current or obsolescent infantry rifles that were outfitted with scopes. 

As time wore on, the world’s armies began developing and producing dedicated sniper rifles, and the weapons improved by leaps and bounds over their grandfather’s weapons.

But the rifle is only a part of being an effective sniper or dedicated marksman. The training and experience that goes into training today’s snipers worldwide is really what separates the wheat from the chaff.

The World’s Best Sniper Rifles Of All Time

What are the top sniper rifles of all time?

The one caveat to these types of pieces is that the lists of “best of all time” is that they tend to be subjective. With that in mind and, in no particular order, here are the best sniper systems from here.

World’s Best Sniper Rifles: McMillan TAC-50

When compiling this list, one has to start with the rifle that currently owns the longest sniper shot in history. A Canadian Special Forces operator with the elite JTF2 used the McMillan TAC 50 to kill an ISIS fighter at 3,540 meters, or 2.2 miles.

The weapon was first designed in the 1980s and is used by several countries due to its accuracy. However, it is a hefty weapon and weighs 26 pounds. The rifle is a precision anti-materiel weapon that fires the .50 BMG (12.7×99 mm) caliber cartridge.


TAC-50 Sniper Rifle. Image Credit: Creative Commons.


TAC-50. Image: Creative Commons/US Government Release.

The TAC-50 uses a bolt action design and comes with a heavy match-grade barrel, 29 inches fluted to reduce weight and cool the weapon rapidly, and is fitted with an effective muzzle brake, which reduces recoil.

The stock is made from fiberglass, and the weapon has a detachable 5-round box magazine, as well as a folding bipod. 

M24SWS (Sniper Weapon System), M40A6

The Army’s M24 SWS and the Marine Corps M40A6 both were based on the Remington 700. The M-24 replaced the Army’s M21 and was first fielded in 1988. The A1 and A3 models have a detachable 5-round box magazine, while the A2 has a 10-round magazine.

The M24’s “long action” refers to the weapon’s ability to be configured to either the 7.61x51mm NATO round, the  .300 Winchester Magnum, or .338 Lapua Magnum. The stock is made from composite material with a fixed cheekpiece, while the buttplate is extendable up to 2 inches.

The bolt action design also has a free-floating stainless steel barrel with 5 grooves. The weapon has a folding bipod and uses the Leupold Ultra M3, Ultra M3A, or Mk.4 LR/T M3 scopes.

The M40A6 was adopted by the Marine Corps, and the main difference is that the USMC M40 models use the short-action version of the Remington 700/40x, which is designed for cartridges having an overall length of 2.750 inches (69.85 mm) or less (such as the .308 Winchester/7.62×51 mm NATO), the Army M24 uses the Remington 700 Long Action which allows for the use of different calibers. 

World’s Best Sniper Rifles: Accuracy International L115A3:

This weapon also had some of the longest kills during the war in Afghanistan. Craig Harrison, a UK Corporal of Horse, a member of the Household Cavalry, killed two Taliban machine gunners from 2,700 meters away in 2009. In 2013, a British sniper in the Coldstream Guards killed six Taliban with one shot in a firefight with about 20 Taliban in southern Afghanistan. 

From about 800 meters, this soldier killed a Taliban fighter wearing a suicide vest. The vest detonated and killed five other Taliban fighters standing nearby. The sniper also killed a Taliban fighter from more than 1,340 meters earlier in his deployment.

Best Sniper Rifle

L115A3 Sniper Rifle. Image Credit: Creative Commons.


A sniper in full camouflage shows off the 7.62mm L115A3 Sniper rifle at the Land Combat Power Demonstration (LCPD).

The weapon was developed by British Olympic shooting Gold medalist Malcolm Cooper and Accuracy International. The weapon weighs 15 lbs and is chambered in .338 Lapua for the UK forces, while other countries use the .300 Winchester Magnum. 

It has a 5-Round detachable box magazine and has an effective range (with the .338 Lapua) out to 1,500 meters. The rifle has a stainless steel, fluted, 27.0-inch barrel, which was found to be the best compromise between muzzle velocity, weight, and length during tests.

The weapon is outfitted with the Schmidt & Bender 5-25×56 mm PM II LP/MILITARY MK II 5-25×56 telescopic sights, suppressors, folding stocks, adjustable cheek pieces, and an adjustable bipod.

Barrett M82/M107 .50 Caliber:

The Barrett M82 is a semi-automatic anti-material rifle designed and developed by Barrett Firearms Manufacturing company in 1982; it was a commercially designed weapon but was soon adopted by several countries’ militaries. In the US, it was dubbed the M107 Long Range Sniper Rifle

At the time, the thought of a .50 caliber shoulder-fired weapon was considered way out-of-the-box thinking. Now dozens of countries use the cartridge. 

The rifle was designed to take out parked aircraft, radar units, trucks, and various other essential enemy targets at long range. It is also used as a long-range anti-personnel sniper weapon. 

Barrett M82

Barrett M82. Image Credit: Creative Commons.


Spc. Alexander Day, a scout sniper with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, fires a Barrett M82 .50-caliber sniper rifle during a basic sniper course being taught by a mobile training team Nov. 9, at Fort Bragg, N.C. The MTT is part of the Army’s Sniper School based at Fort Benning, Ga.


Belgian Special Forces sniper teams fire upon long-range targets from an elevated shooting range at the High Angle Sniper Course, in Hochfilzen training area, Austria, September 30th, 2020. The high angle sniper course lasts two weeks and is designed to teach and train sniper teams the necessary skills to operate in mountainous terrain. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Patrik Orcutt)

The M107 is chambered for powerful 12.7×99 mm (.50 BMG) ammunition that was used in the M2 .50 caliber Browning machine gun (known as “Ma Deuce”). The M107 has a semi-automatic action that uses recoil operation. With each shot, the barrel moves rearward with the bolt slightly before stopping and being returned forward by a set of large springs. 

The weapon is fed from a 10-round detachable magazine, has Picatinny rails, and is usually outfitted with Leupold Mark IV telescopic sights. The Marine Corps uses US Optics sights. It is another heavy weapon weighing 29-35 lbs, depending on the model. 

There are two different barrels, 20 and 29 inches, that are fluted and have a large muzzle brake that improves heat dissipation and reduces weight and recoil.

World’s Best Sniper Rifles: Barrett Mark 22 MRAD

For a new weapon, this newest sniper system looks to be the best one yet. In 2016, the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) put out specific specs that they wanted in a new precision sniper rifle. 

Barrett once again was chosen and was awarded the $50 million contract for a version of their MRAD (Multi-Role Adaptive Design) bolt-action rifle. The MK22 came with three barrels: 7.62x51mm, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Norma Magnum. SOCOM, the Army, and the Marine Corps are all purchasing the newest Barrett.

The Mk22 is a very advanced, extremely accurate, and allows the shooter to easily adjust the trigger to his/her preferred pull weight, modify the manual safety for right- or left-handed operation, extend the stock and cheek rest to a preferred, comfortable position, and collapse the buttstock.

Barrett MRAD

Barrett MRAD. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Barrett MRAD

Barrett MRAD. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The three different calibers allow the shooters to train with the more plentiful (and much cheaper) 7.62x51mm cartridge. The barrels are easily swapped out by simply removing two Torx bolts, the weapon comes with the needed torque wrench. Barrel lengths are 20 inches for the 7.62x51mm, 26 inches for the .300 Norma Magnum, and 27 inches for the .338 Lapua Magnum.

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There is a 23-inch Picatinny rail mounted on top of the barrel. The stock folds to protect the bolt during field conditions. It comes with a 10-Round detachable box magazine. It weighs 15.2 lbs, has an adjustable polymer cheek piece. 

Honorable Mention: The Soviet/Russian Dragunov sniper rifle has been a long-serving successful weapon. The Russians have also copied the .50 caliber design and have a new DXL-5 Ravager system that they have typically claimed is superior to the Barrett.

Bonus: Best U.S. Army Rifles

M16 Rifle

Sgt. Marco Gutierrez, a public affairs specialist from Indianapolis, Indiana assigned to the U.S. Army Reserve’s 350th Public Affairs Detachment, fires his M-16A2 at the range on Camp Atterbury, Indiana Nov. 3. Army Reserve Soldiers qualify on their individual assigned weapon once a year in order to be “mission capable” should they need to deploy.

M16 Army

U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Harrison Brewer, G4 Chief Movements Supervisor for the 335th Signal Command (Theater), fires an M16 rifle on a range at Fort Gordon, Georgia, March 8, 2019. Soldiers from the 335th Signal Command (Theater) headquarters completed warrior tasks and battle drills to include weapons qualification, grenade practice and roll over training during a four-day training designed to increase their warfighting abilities. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Leron Richards)

U.S. Army Private 1st Class Andre Matthews fires an M16A4 rifle during the Squad Designated Marksman Course instructed by the New Jersey Army National Guard’s 254th Regiment on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., July 20, 2017. The course teaches the Squad Designated Marksman to directly support their squad with well-aimed shots at ranges slightly beyond the normal engagement distances for riflemen, up to 600 meters. The 254th Regiment is based out of the Regional Training Institute, National Guard Training Center, Sea Girt, N.J. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht/Released)


M16. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Best Guns Ever Used by the US Military

M16 Rifle


M16A4. Image Credit: Creative Commons.


CAMP KOREA VILLAGE, Iraq (May 15, 2007) – Sergeant Christopher L. Mc Cabe fires his rifle during monthly range training here May 15. The Marines and sailors of Detachment 1, Combat Logistics Battalion 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), provide necessities and services to coalition forces throughout the area of operations. Mc Cabe, a Bellaire, Ohio, native, is the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the maintenance section, Det 1, CLB-2, 2nd MLG (Fwd). (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Thomas J. Griffith)

Expert Biography: Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. A proven military analyst, he served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer in the 7th Special Forces Group. In addition to writing for and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.

Written By

Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 1945, he covers the NFL for and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Old flint

    April 25, 2023 at 3:02 pm

    Interesting article but since an E-4 sitting in Colorado flying a drone can do anything a sniper can do and more, not sure how relevant. My son had his sniper tab in Afghanistan but the Army was so risk averse that he never was called upon to use it. Although he did have some awesome footage a friend gave him of a Taliban guy riding a motorcycle getting waxed while speeding down the road by a Predator drone.

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